Clay pit

Garden of Stories

Welcome to the Clay Pit, where you can explore the many stories about ceramics. You can learn how ceramics honours the land from whence it comes, tells stories across millennia, orchestrates our rituals and serves us during the day, giving meaning to the simple acts of eating and drinking.

The steward for this feature is the Lesotho ceramicist, ‘Matsooana Sekokotoana.

My name is ‘Matsooana Sekokotoana (‘Mabafokeng Seala) from Maseru, Lesotho. I am an artist with a special interest in sculpting & ceramics, particularly fond of using clay as a medium. Clay is not only accessible but is easy to use and mould when one is creating objects of whatever size or shape. It is very malleable, but very strong when fared. In Sesotho culture, clay holds a special connection as something retrieved from the earth, believed to connect the living to their forefathers. Prehistorically, it was mainly used by women as a means to create tools for homemaking such as pots for storing food (milk/beer) or fetching water.

Between the quarry and paradise: Grafting rubbish onto nature - Lauren Downton shares her journey from the dazzling nature of South Africa to the withered landscape of South Australia, from which has emerged hybrid porcelain forms.
Together with Montaigne’s Cat: Gyeonggi Ceramics Biennale 2024 - In 2024, South Korea's international ceramics biennale will reflect how ceramics bridges race, culture and history.
Birender Kumar Yadav ✿ Presencing the keepers of the kiln - Our March Laurel goes to Birender Kumar Yadav for his terracotta installation in homage to brick kiln workers, one of the highlights of the Indian Ceramics Triennale. 
The flip side: Art protest and making ceramics - Joana Partyka explains the paradox of making expressionist ceramics while also defacing masterpieces to highlight the damage of fossil fuel projects.
Petersham Escarpment: The mountain comes to the city - Through the mysterious alchemy of the kiln, Simon Reece brings the landscape of the majestic Blue Mountains to an inner urban plaza.
Aleisa Miksad ✿ Bacchic ceramics - Our February laurel is awarded to Aleisa Miksad for a vessel that bristles with Dionysian energy.
Esther Elia ✿ An Assyrian Prayer Bowl - Our December laurel is awarded to an Assyrian living in the USA who makes prayer bowls with messages of cultural resilience.
Peter Hawkesby ✿ Building a heart basket - Lucy Hammonds writes about a New Zealand ceramicist whose work is grounded on the land he walks.
Lest we forget the skillful touch - Curtis Benzle argues for the need to appreciate the work of the hand in a digital age.
Mother’s touch: An interview with ceramicist Richilde Flavell  - Yasmin Masri writes about Richilde Flavell's use of ceramics to explore the transformational experience of becoming a mother. 
Touchstones:The sensual work of studio potter Jane Sawyer - Carolyn Leach-Paholski reflects on the pleasures at hand of a slow ceramics.
Peranakan tiles: A harmony of colour, motif and texture  - Ananya Mallick explores "hands on" the production of traditional tiles in Malaysia.
Stevei Houkāmau ✿ Clay as whakapapa - Zoe Black tracks the journey of Stevei Houkāmau in finding whakapapa connections through ceramics.
The sense of clay in the Anthropocene - Attracted by its smell and feel, Yuliya Makliuk has taken up clay as a cause for good in the world.
Mai Nguyễn-Long ✿ Vomit Girl - Mai Nguyễn-Long introduces her Kôgábịnô exhibition, featuring works that express the Vietnamese punk-like aesthetic of mộc mạc. 
Self Medication: Korean Ceramic Art - Choi Leeji shares her vision of Korean ceramics, as it flows out of its traditional sources.
Sarah Khan ✿ Spoons as weapons of mass creation - Our September laurel Sarah K Khan, inspired by a sixteenth-century Indian Cookbook in Persian, decorates her spoons in honor of women’s knowledge.
Strange tales from a Chinese studio: Geng Xue’s porcelain imaginary - For Luise Guest, the surreal porcelain of Geng Xue is inspired by the rich history of a Chinese imaginary.
Brisbane Art and Design Festival 2023: A vessel for diversity of creative practice  - Pamela See reviews a ceramics exhibition that reveals a vibrant Brisbane scene using clay as a language of fragility
sounds of clay and me, making - Toni Warburton describes the sounds that orchestrate her work in ceramics.
David Ray ✿ Four Treasons - Our June laurel is awarded to David Ray for his Four Treasons series of figurines that update the bucolic Staffordshire genre.
“I feel as if I’ve dropped into a secret cave”: The power of clay in recent Indian fiction - D Wood reviews two recent novels by Indian writers that evoke the allure of ceramics.
UYalezo – New Traditions - Andile Dyalvane's ceremonial ceramic works embody traditional knowledge about nature transmitted by ancestors.
Jane DuRand ✿ Walking through landscape, tile by tile - Our March laurel goes to Jane DuRand for an epic installation of tiles that evoke the myriad dimensions of the landscapes she loves to walk through.
Taste-makers: A selection of tableware made by hand today - You are invited to sample tableware by today's makers from around the world.
Chefs who make - Lee Tran Lam finds four remarkable chefs who make their own tableware, uniquely crafted for their specialist dishes.
Ajiwau: A Japanese way of savouring life - Euan Craig shares his life at the wheel in a Japanese pottery village, where he makes tableware that helps savour the food and its moment.
Cone Eleven ✿ Crafting a theatre for specialist dining - Ilona Topolcsanyi collaborates with two chefs, demonstrating the creative role of the ceramicist in specialist dining. 
The underlying delight of Japanese tableware - The Go for Kogei festival invited Brian Kennedy to dialogue with Kutani ceramicist Masaru Nakada in developing a playful set of tableware.
A gaiwan for my father - Mia Riley revisits her father's tea cabinet and resolved to use her ceramic skills to make him special traditional tea cups.
Brasilidade: Samba on a plate - Nina Coimbra’s tableware captures the feeling of “Brasildade”, the poly-sensory experience of life in Brazil.
Take a chance on art - Liat Segal presents three bodies of work that use randomness as a creative tool.
Earth Nidus: An unnatural nature - Fan Ji seeks intimations of untamed nature in urban laneways through clay that clings to the metal grid.
Simone Fraser ✿ Re-gendering ritual - Simone Fraser explains why she was drawn to ceramics as a way of feminising the rites of her childhood.
Kelly Austin ✿ Suspended decompositions - Jane Stewart writes about Kelly Austin's ceramics, whose material response to the mined landscape of Queenstown reflects the genre of still life in painting.
Earth Webs: Weaving into the land - Rina Peleg weaves baskets of clay in response to the shared land from which it comes.
place of not-knowing: on Arrernte Country - pattie beerens enacts a unique ceramics practice that weaves with surrounding nature.
Habitat: Terracotta homes for hard-working bees - Prompted by devastating bushfires, Julie Bartholomew produced cool but water-tight terracotta hives that reflect their ovoid form in nature.
Ropework: Soft garniture for life - Finn McCahon-Jones weaves a story around his artistic self, Finn Ferrier. An innocent exploration of knotting ends up as part of the treatment for a life-threatening illness.
Ran Out - Shlomit Bauman combines clay from the Negev desert with refined porcelain to embody a clash of cultures.
Avi Amesbury ✿ Our material home - Julie Bartholomew reviews a sensory exhibition of ceramics that connects us to sand, seaweed, ash and other planetary materials.
Pui ✿ Sharing happiness with Sukhothai ceramics - Witiya Pittungnapoo admires the unique celadon designs from a Thai maker that reflect the royal Sukhothai culture.
Devon Harvest jug ✿ An anonymous maker speaks - Sebastian Blackie listens to a garrulous clay jug from centuries past.
Late Muhammad Nawaz: The unsurpassable master potter from Harappa, Pakistan - Noorjehan Bilgrami and J. Mark Kenoyer honour Muhammad Nawaz, who brought back to life the ceramic traditions of the ancient Indus Valley.
My pots from Pakistan and the memories they keep alive - Owen Rye recounts his ceramic adventures in Pakistan, with images of the pots that have lived with him in the 50 years since. 
Imagining a nostalgic future: The cosmic ceramics of Douglas Black - Liliana Morais explores the world of a US-born ceramicist who gives expression to planetarity from his self-built house in the mountains of Japan.
The use of function - Rob Barnard argues for the value of use in ceramics as the door into a multi-sensuous experience.
Dancing with stars: From light to dark from dark to light  - Sebastian Blackie reflects on the celestial ceramics of Jane Perryman and Tom Hall writes about the accompanying soundtrack by Kevin Flanagan.
Oceans in a tea cup - Alma Studholme admires the work of Jayanto Tan and reflects on her own work that bridges migration with the warmth of a teacup.
The Mingei Film Archive: Unique stories of craft on celluloid - Join Marty Gross in a conversation about the challenge of translating the messages from the past in archival film.
Sophie Moran ✿ The batter bowl - Sophie Moran dedicates her classic ceramic bowl to the memory of William Morris.
Nicolette Johnson ✿ Shimmering turquoise - Our January laurel is awarded to Nicolette Johnson for her stoneware vase with mesmerising handles.  
Kyungsook Park ✿ The craft of conviviality - Misun Rheem explains why she brought a dinner party into the Cheongju International Craft Biennale
Castlemaine Currency: Towards a grounded economy - Dale Cox and Jodi Newcombe explain the origins and aims of producing coinage from clay for exclusive use within the town of Castlemaine.
Utsuwa: The extraordinary is every day in Japan - Kylie and Tiffany Johnson share their journey to find makers of everyday objects in Japan, including Keigo and Chiaki Sakata at the To-ji Temple market in Kyoto.
iQweqwe: Towards the ancestors - The Cape Town ceramicist Madoda Fani takes the road to success and finds his way back home.
A cloudy day collecting clay among the gullies and the gums - Cassy McArthur is finally able to return to the granite country where she collects the clay that honours its intricate beauty.
Ghost objects: Crafting the poetry of the everyday - honor freeman reflects on her dual practice, making objects for both the art gallery and the street.
Kishōtenketsu: Kawase Shinobu’s celadon journey - Bonnie B. Lee writes about the four-part structure from Chinese poetry that informs the ceramics of Kawase Shinobu.
The Messenger Through The Twilight: A clay apocalypse - Raksit Panya introduces five Thai ceramic artists whose work foretells an archeology of the present.
Iranian monuments at the wheel - Mohammad Ali Sajjadi writes about the Iranian architectural forms that he honours on his potter's wheel.
Does the wanting monster whisper to you? - Anna Read has found a new home for her ceramics in a children's book about greed and its impact on the environment.
Ozioma Onuzulike ✿ Woven in clay - Our October laurel goes to Nigerian ceramicist Ozioma Onuzulike for an epic Nigerian prestige gown woven out of hundreds of small clay beads.
The spirit of Japanese mingei in Brazil - Our Reinventing the Wheel series considers the evolution of Japanese craft traditions in Brazil, as documented by Liliana Morais and Silvia Sasaoka.
Philomena Yeatman ✿ Hairy Men and Little People - Francoise Lane shares the story of Yarrabah artist Philomena Yeatman that inspired a recent collection of ceramic figures.
Miquel Barceló ✿ Metamorphosis - Jessica Hemmings reviews an exhibition by Majorcan artist Miquel Barceló of monumental and metamorphic ceramic works.
The gate is open: Guan Wei and Jayne Dyer in China - Pamela See (Xue Mei-Ling) considers the lively east-west exchange supported by Beijing's Red Gate Gallery, drawing on the thoughts of Confucius, Plato, Mao Zedong and Edward Said.
Kumbharwada: Make in Dharavi - Nidhi Agrawal documents the dynamic potter's community in Mumbai's enterprising Dharavi neighbourhood.
From Japan to Brazil: The ceramics of Shoko Suzuki - Liliana Morais follows a Japanese ceramicist who built a kiln in order to make a life between Japan and Brazil.
Eastern glazes: The provenance of celadon, tenmoku and shino - Sandra Bowkett starts to question her right to use Japanese terms.
Stevei Houkamau ✿ Kahu for Matariki - Keri-Mei Zagrobelna shares a carved ceramic object whose spiral raperape pattern resonates with the Māori New Year, Matariki.
Judy Lorraine ✿ Drawnoutness and the music of clay - Judy Lorraine celebrates 50 years of making ceramic instruments that activate the mysteries of nature.
Zhu Ohmu ✿ 3D-printed by hand - The June Laurel is awarded to Zhu Ohmu, whose coiled ceramic vessels gracefully embody a precarious world.
Ceramix: Dialogues in clay - Sophia Cai reflects on her curation for the Australian Ceramics Association exhibition at Manly Art Gallery.
Tecuil Alessia: Preserving the heart of the prehispanic kitchen - Raquel Bessudo heralds a new design for the traditional stove which promises a healthy future for traditional Mexican life
Sindhu – The river line: A dialogue - Pallavi Arora and Shirley Bhatnagar reanimate ancient pottery from the Indus valley civilisation
Vipoo Srivilasa: Will my heart remember? - Aaron Bradbrook presents a project by Vipoo Srivilasa to reincarnate objects relinquished by residents of Warrnambool.
Sandra Bowkett ✿ Twig vessels - Sandra Bowkett has made vessels for gathering not only elegant twigs but also the mark of the maker.
Cantarino: Reanimating the whistling bottles of the Andes - Francisca Gili Hanisch revives an ancient object that invests water with music for the afterlife. 
Benn Gritt ✿ Beauty by hand - What kind of beauty emerges when the hand rules the eye?
fluxed earth ✿ Garden forage vases - Kirstie Murdoch & Rye Senjen share their daily bush walk and the vases that provide a place for what we ourselves might gather.
Jane McKenzie ✿ Play of light - Our April laurel goes to Jane McKenzie, a ceramic artist whose work reduces modernist architecture to human scale.
Imaginary Animals, Auspicious Companions - In contemporary South Korean ceramics, Moon Yujin finds a consolation of animality, especially in the playful work of Yon Hokyung
How Bundjil the Eagle created the world we now need to protect - Cassie Leatham made a pot out of local clay and feathers gifted by fate that tells the Taungurung story of how Bundjil the Eagle created the land.
Madhvi Subrahmanian ✿ Pandemic Pills - Our March laurel goes to Madhvi Subrahmanian for ceramic objects that offer ritual release for the mental restlessness accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taller Grulla ✿ The forest at hand - Our January laurel goes to a Chilean workshop that makes objects for daily life inspired by earth and forest. 
iThongo: Messages from the ancestors - Andile Dyalvane's new work inscribes Xhosa objects into ceramic seating that supports a gathering of his OoJola clan.
Te Hosek’en Harw: The Edge of the World - In consultation with the Selkn’am community, Sol Contardo created ceramic works inspired by their mysterious culture, located in Tierra del Fuego.
Cupinzeiros: Back in touch with childhood - Lidia Lisbôa creates her cupinzeiros (termite mounds) as a way to stay in touch with her childhood home.
Kamaquen: Ceramics powered by Andean energy - For Keka Ruiz-Tagle, ceramics channels the spirits of her Inca ancestors.
Made with lava in Chile - The Santiago design workshop Great Things to People recover deep geology to make objects for life today.
Blood moon: Ceramics for a fragile planet - Jane Sawyer witnesses a rare astronomical event, which prompts her to consider the planetary nature of the clay in her hands.
What brought Hermie Cornelisse back to pottery - Linda Fredheim interviews legendary Tasmanian potter Hermie Cornelisse about her return to making after a decade working in a shoe shop.
Dawn Beasley ✿ On a slow boat to Jingdezhen - Dawn Beasley has just been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to take up a ceramics residency studio in Jingdezhen, following a path worn by many successful foreign artists.
Remembering Yellow Cave can help us survive a pandemic - Louis Katz finds courage in the memory of Wild Boar Soccer Team rescue and the spirit of the world ceramic community.
Terracotta at hand: The cool water bottle - Khushbu Mathur celebrates the latest evolution in Indian terracotta craft: the clay bottle to keep your water cool.
Fleeting moments: Responses to Transference and Common Thread - Julie Bartholomew writes about two exhibitions that reveal the mysteries of making.
My father was an elephant: Clay dreams in Nigeria - Ngozi Omeje shares her journey through the soothing medium of clay and how it helps honour her family and inspire good works.
Litema, the pride of a Mosotho woman’s home - ‘Matsooana Sekokotoana is inspired by the litema designs on the homes of her country, which reflect daily life in the villages of Lesotho.
Rahul Kumar ✿ Ceramic art and science - Utkarsh interviews Indian ceramic artist Rahul Kumar about his art and science of technique.

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